It’s been a little over a month since I arrived in Milano, and I still have so many mixed emotions. I promised I’d be candid about my experiences living abroad, so here they are…
For as long as I can remember, I have looked forward to every trip to Italy, regardless of the length of stay. This time was so different, though. This time, I really didn’t want to go. I cried often in the weeks leading up to my departure; overwhelming sadness, guilt, frustration and confusion often consumed me. Having a past and present in one country, with a future in another across the ocean, is as exhausting as it sounds.
Two years ago, when I arrived here to pursue my Master’s degree, I cried for a week straight. I was emotional because I missed my family. I was afraid because I had just moved to a somewhat new city. I was nervous because I thought I had forgotten how to study and I’d fail miserably in school. (True story!) Miraculously, and with the ceaseless support of my boyfriend and close relatives, I got through it. When my year was up and it was time to go back to New York, I was so heartbroken–to leave not only my other half, but the city I came to adore.
So, once I landed in Milano in February, I thought the initial waves of apprehension and dread would disappear in a week or two.
They haven’t, yet.
I find myself getting annoyed at silly things like not knowing when to pay at the register after a meal, or the lack of parking spaces available on the street. I miss being fully aware of what is going on around me. I miss my 2-month old niece and rest of my family. I miss the ease and comfort with which I was living back home–cheesecake delivered to my door at any time and shopping plaza runs where I knocked out all my errands under one hour.
The employment situation here is also not helping my morale. Since I’m not quite ready to dive into the 9-5, full time life just yet, I’ve been trying to land part-time gigs and freelancing opportunities as an English tutor/translator. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it sounds.
Then, there are moments like from this past weekend, where I felt profoundly grateful to be living in such a colorful city, within such a fascinating country. Whether exploring the artisans’ shops of Navigli, or wandering through medieval roads off the beaten path in Como, there is a lot to be appreciated here in Italy; and I’ll never quit marveling at all the beauty and history surrounding me.
Some days are better than others, and the more I talk about it to loved ones and fellow expats, the less alone I feel. Moving to another country is hard, even for someone who knows said country like the back of her hand.
To be honest, I don’t know what the future holds for me here. Next year is a long time and several seasons away, so–for now–I’ll savor each foamy cappuccino, cherish every gorgeous sunset and remember that I’m fortunate enough to be able to call two of the greatest cities in the world home.